- Osteochondrosis is one of a variety of developmental orthopedic diseases that occur in young, fast-growing dogs, typically large and giant breeds. The most common form of osteochondrosis in dogs is osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which can cause angular limb deformities in long bones, and cartilage damage in shoulders, elbows, knees and hocks.
- Inappropriate nutrition has been identified as an important factor in the development of bone disease in big puppies. Free-feeding, overfeeding, and improper feeding of energy-dense diets, excessive calcium and mineral intake, and an imbalance of vitamin D metabolites present significant risks to growing large and giant breed puppies.
- The diets of big puppies should be carefully managed to help prevent developmental orthopedic disease. The problem in today’s young, growing dogs is not one of dietary deficiency, but rather one of “over-nutrition” caused by overfeeding and inappropriate supplementation of certain nutrients.
- To avoid “overgrowing” a large or giant breed puppy, the first step is to feed portion-controlled meals rather than free-feeding. Puppies should be maintained in optimal body condition, not maximal body condition.
- The best diet for a large breed puppy is designed to meet the nutrient requirements for growth in large breeds, contains the proper amount of calories to avoid rapid growth, and also the appropriate levels of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, and the correct calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.
By Dr. Becker
Osteochondrosis is one of several developmental orthopedic diseases that occur in young, fast-growing dogs, especially large and giant breeds like the Doberman Pinscher, the Labrador Retriever, Great Danes and Newfoundlands.
The most common form of osteochondrosis in dogs is called osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which is a defect in bone development at the extremity of a bone. The problem is thought to be a disruption in the manufacture of bone tissue that results in injury to growth cartilage. These injuries can cause angular limb deformities in long bones, as well as damage to the cartilage in the shoulder, stifle (knee joint), hock (the joint in the rear leg below the knee), and the elbow.
Inflammatory joint disease often follows osteochondrosis, ultimately leading to degenerative joint disease.
Developmental orthopedic diseases occur during the early stages of bone growth, before the growth plates close. This crucial period (the first year of life) is when a puppy’s skeletal system is most vulnerable to physical, nutritional and metabolic damage due to increased metabolic activity. The reason large and giant breeds are at higher risk is because genetics cause their bodies to grow very rapidly. Another predisposing factor is whether a puppy’s parents developed osteochondrosis.
Nutrition Can Be a Significant Risk Factor for Bone Disease
Studies of nutritional risk factors involved in osteochondrosis have identified free-feeding and overfeeding – especially of high-energy foods designed for rapid growth – as contributors. Energy-dense diets can promote increased levels of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, insulin and thyroid hormones. Other dietary influences include excessive calcium intake, excessive mineral intake, and an imbalance of vitamin D metabolites.
For optimal bone development in puppies, diets must include appropriate and balanced amounts of nutrients. Excessive calcium and energy (calories), plus rapid growth predispose dogs to developing osteochondrosis. When a growing dog — especially a large or giant breed — is overfed and overweight, the bones are stressed by both static and dynamic forces that can cause damage to the skeleton.
In one study, Great Dane puppies that were free-fed a diet high in energy and minerals, or a diet high in calcium, developed osteochondrosis with clearly visible symptoms.
Studies have also shown that large breed puppies fed diets with high calcium content or high calcium and phosphorus content also acquired developmental orthopedic disease.
This is because puppies aren’t able to control or limit absorption of dietary calcium and certain other minerals. Absorption occurs through the intestines, and the higher the calcium and mineral content of the diet, the greater the level of absorption and assimilation into developing bone structure. This can disturb the natural process of bone growth and result in lesions in the skeleton and joints.
Even when highly palatable, energy-dense diets are well-balanced, when free-fed to large and giant breed puppies, the risk of OCD and other orthopedic diseases is increased. This is one of many reasons I don’t recommend free-feeding any pet. Most dogs and cats will overeat if free-fed, and as you can see, this is especially hazardous to the health of growing large and giant breed puppies.
To date, no studies have found protein intake to be a factor in the development of osteochondrosis.
Large Breed Puppy Diets Should Be Carefully Managed
Careful management of the diets of large and giant breed dogs won’t eliminate every instance of developmental bone disease, but it’s a crucial step in decreasing risk factors. The problem in today’s young, growing dogs is not one of dietary deficiency, but rather one of “overnutrition” caused by overfeeding and over-supplementation.
Young large breed dogs are at higher risk of developing skeletal problems than small breed dogs, even when both are fed diets with too little or too much calcium. Even when calcium intake is optimal, big dogs have more growth-related skeletal issues than smaller breeds.
To help prevent disease, we must make every effort to control the rate at which big dogs grow by feeding only the amount of calories needed to keep their bodies lean while they develop. The first step is to feed portion-controlled meals rather than free-feeding. We want to help dogs maintain optimal body condition, not maximal body condition.
Diets should not be extremely high in calories. Many super premium dog foods on the market are highly energy-dense. By contrast, large-breed puppy foods have reduced caloric density, calcium and phosphorus levels compared with other canine growth diets.
Switching a big puppy to an adult diet to try to control growth rate is not recommended. Adult diets don’t have the calories per serving that big puppies require, so they can end up eating more food and taking in excessive levels of other nutrients, which can be risky.
The Right Way to Feed a Large or Giant Breed Puppy
The ideal diet for a large breed puppy is designed to meet the nutrient requirements for growth in large breeds, contains the proper amount of calories to avoid rapid growth, and also the appropriate levels of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, and the correct calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Large and giant breed puppies continue to grow until about 18 months of age, so they should be kept on a specially designed growth diet until they are fully grown.
The goal in feeding a large or giant breed puppy is to keep him lean, with controlled growth. A healthy, large or giant breed puppy will thrive on a portion-controlled, balanced, species-appropriate diet. You can feed an ideally balanced homemade diet or an excellent quality commercially available food.
What about those large breed puppy foods? Traditional puppy foods often provide much higher calorie content than large breed puppies require, causing them to gain too much weight too quickly. This is why pet food manufacturers began producing formulas specifically for large breed puppies.
These are typically diets lower in calorie density (the number of calories per cup or gram of food) than a regular puppy diet. They’re also usually lower in calcium on an energy basis.
These are two very important factors for reducing too-rapid growth in big puppies. Some adult foods may also be low calorically, but often they have high calcium content on an energy basis, which is not what you want for a growing large or giant breed pup.
If you’re going to feed kibble to a large breed puppy, I recommend you look for special large breed puppy formulas or a formula (preferably a balanced, raw food diet) that is "Approved for all life stages." This means the food is appropriate for growing puppies or adult dogs.
I do not recommend feeding a traditional (high growth) puppy food to large breed puppies.
June 3, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets, responsible pet ownership | big puppies, Doberman Pinschers, dog food, dog nutrition, Dr. Becker, Giant Breed Dogs, Great Danes, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundlands, Osteochondrosis, Puppies, puppy food | Leave a Comment
- Three very common allergies in dogs include flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies and environmental allergies.
- Treating your dog’s symptoms is only a temporary fix.
- It’s extremely important to find the root cause of an allergic reaction.
- Tips to relieve the suffering of your allergic dog.
By Dr. Becker
If your dog seems to have an allergic condition, it’s important to get an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you can.
Unlike the vast majority of traditional DVMs, I wholeheartedly disagree your pet should be started right away on a regimen of anti-allergy drugs and antibiotics and/or anti-viral medications.
There are safer ways to relieve your dog’s symptoms than pharmaceuticals while you and your vet work to discover the root cause of the allergic reaction.
Relieving symptoms without addressing the source of the problem is a short term fix to what can become a lifelong health problem. And certain drugs used to stop the allergic cycle have significant, potentially very serious side effects.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
Flea allergy dermatitis, which is actually sensitivity to flea saliva, is a very common condition in dogs. It’s not the bite of the flea that causes most of the itching in dogs with FAD, it’s the saliva.
The saliva causes irritation way out of proportion to the actual number of fleas on the pup.
Lots of dog parents assume if their pet isn’t infested with fleas, the itching can’t be caused by fleas. But if your dog has FAD, the saliva of just one or two fleas can make him miserably itchy and uncomfortable for many weeks (long past the death of those two fleas).
Suggestions for flea control:
- If you suspect or know fleas are a problem for your dog, I recommend you comb her at least once daily, every day during pest season with a flea comb. Do this on a white towel or other light colored cloth so you can see what’s coming off your dog as you comb. Flea ‘dirt’ (actually flea feces) looks like real dirt, but when suspended in a little rubbing alcohol or water will dissolve and release a red color (blood) allowing you to discern real dirt from flea dirt.
- Bathe your dog often. A soothing bath will kill any fleas on your dog, help heal skin irritation, and make her feel more comfortable and less itchy. Also, clean animals aren’t as attractive to fleas. Pick a non-grain (no oatmeal) herbal shampoo.
- Make liberal use of an all-natural pest repellent like Natural Flea and Tick Defense during flea season.
For some dogs with a serious case of flea allergy dermatitis, I prescribe an oral drug called Comfortis. It is a chemical, but it’s considered the least hazardous of all similar drugs. All drugs can have side effects, but Comfortis has reportedly fewer than topical insecticides.
If your dog has an allergy to something he’s eating, it may show itself not only as digestive upset (gas, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.), but also as one or several of these symptoms:
- Itchy or oozing skin
- Red, irritated eyes
- Nasal discharge
- Coughing or sneezing; asthma
- Inflamed ears
- Swollen paws
If you suspect your dog is sensitive to something in her diet, there are a number of things you can do to learn the source of the allergy and solve the problem:
- If your dog is over a year old, consider using Dr. Jean Dodds’ Nutriscan saliva test to determine if your pet is allergic to beef, corn, wheat, soy, eggs and/or milk (the most common antigens for dogs). Dr. Dodds will be adding additional antigens to the test in the near future.
- If your pet has been eating the same food every day for months or years, there’s a good chance she’s developed an allergy to it. Contrary to what you’ve probably been led to believe, pets need diversity in their diets just like humans do. She might be sensitive to the single source of chemically-laced protein she’s been getting (chances are the meat is loaded with antibiotics and hormones causing immune system over-reaction). She’s also probably grown sensitive to certain allergenic ingredients in the food, typically grains and other carbohydrates.
Work with your holistic vet to develop an allergy elimination diet to help pinpoint the source of the problem. I recommend a three-month diet, which is longer than what many vets suggest. I like to give adequate time for an animal’s body to clear the allergenic substances, detoxify, and clean out cellular debris.
At the end of the elimination diet, new foods are added back in slowly, one at a time to gauge your dog’s response. It’s not uncommon for pets to be able to re-incorporate previous problem foods or clean proteins into the diet once the body is detoxified and the GI tract is healthy again.
- Your holistic vet should also suggest natural supplements to help with detoxification, allergy relief and immune system support during and after the elimination diet.
- To be optimally healthy — which includes avoiding food sensitivities and building resistance to all types of allergies — your dog should be fed a balanced, species-appropriate diet. The diet I recommend is preferably raw, either homemade (again, as long as it’s balanced) or commercial. Rotating the protein sources your dog eats is extremely important, as is strictly limiting or eliminating grains.
In addition to flea saliva and certain foods/ingredients, your dog can also be allergic to an infinite variety of irritants in the environment. These can be outdoor allergens like ragweed, grasses and pollens, as well as indoor irritants like mold, dust mites, cleaning chemicals and even fabrics like wool or cotton.
As a general rule, if your dog is allergic to something inside your home, he’ll have year-round symptoms. If he’s reacting is to something outdoors, it could very well be a seasonal problem.
Also, your pet’s immune system is partly genetic, so he can actually inherit a tendency toward environmental allergies.
Finding the root cause of this type of allergy is extremely important, because what usually happens is the more your pet is exposed to an irritant, the more his sensitivity and reaction to it grows.
Some suggestions for finding and resolving environmental irritants:
- Clean up your pet’s indoor air environment. Don’t allow smoking around your pet. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products. Consider investing in an air purifier to control dust mites.
- Make sure your dog’s drinking water is high quality and doesn’t contain fluoride, heavy metals or other contaminants.
- Don’t allow your dog to be over-vaccinated or over medicated. Vaccines rev up your pet’s immune system – too many vaccinations can send it into overdrive. An over-reactive immune system sets the stage for allergic conditions.
Antibiotics wipe out good bacteria right along with the bad guys. Since the majority of your pet’s immune system is in her GI tract, the right balance of gut bacteria is crucial for her health. There’s also the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in pets.
Steroid therapy (prednisone, for example) is often prescribed for pets with allergies. What these drugs do is turn off the immune system so it stops creating the allergic response. It does work for symptom relief, but unfortunately, the side effects make this a very serious, potentially dangerous drug.
- Bathe your dog. If your pet has irritated skin, bathing will rinse the allergens away and make her feel better immediately. Don’t be shy about how often you bathe your pet, especially if she suffers from allergies that itch and irritate her skin.
If you suspect something outdoors is irritating your dog, in between baths, do foot soaks. Chances are the allergen is coming inside on your pet’s feet. She can’t escape it, and she’s spreading it around indoors to every room she visits.
May 17, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | dog allergies, Dr. Becker, flea allery dermatitis, JOMP, Just One More Pet, pet allergies, pet environmenal allergies, pet food allergies | Leave a Comment
- Recently the ASPCA opened the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, NJ, a first-of-its-kind facility dedicated exclusively to helping rehabilitate dogs that have been victims of animal cruelty.
- The center’s patients will come from shelters across the country as well as from ASPCA-involved seizures, and will primarily be victims of puppy mills and hoarding situations.
- Dogs with extreme fear disorders are in danger of being euthanized unless they can be rehabilitated – a job that typically falls to shelter workers and rescue groups. The ASPCA’s new center, which is launching a two-year research project, has committed to share its findings with shelters and rescue organizations across the U.S.
- The Behavioral Rehabilitation Center has over two dozen kennels, treatment rooms, “real life” rooms, and common areas. There are 10 staff members, including two behavior experts, plus volunteers and daily caretakers. The ASPCA invested over a half a million dollars in the center, and will pay for all patient expenses, including vet care.
- For many animals, being rescued from a lifetime of neglect and abuse is just the beginning of a long journey to recovery. The Behavioral Rehabilitation Center’s goal is to provide rescued dogs with customized behavior therapy and more time to recover, which will increase their chances of being adopted
By Dr. Becker
Recently the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) opened the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ, as part of a two-year research project.
Per an ASPCA press release, the center is “the first-ever facility dedicated strictly to providing behavioral rehabilitation to canine victims of cruelty, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding cases.” According to center director Kristen Collins, the center will also treat a certain number of dogs that have been confined for long periods because they are “evidence” in court cases.
The Behavior Rehabilitation Center’s canine patients will come from shelters across the U.S. as well as from ASPCA-involved seizures from puppy mills and hoarders. According to Collins, the center is the first facility of its kind in that it will be focused exclusively on providing rehabilitation for dogs that are victims of animal cruelty.
The Center’s findings as part of the two-year research project will be shared with shelters and rescue organizations throughout the U.S.
Dogs with Extreme Fear Disorders Are Euthanasia Candidates
Dogs suffering from extreme fear are prone to symptoms such as shaking, cowering, loss of bladder control, growling and biting. In some cases, the fear is always present and causes the animal a great deal of pain. These cases are very hard to treat.
This level of fear is commonly seen in dogs that have survived life in puppy mills or hoarding situations. Once free, fear consumes them because their previous miserable, often abusive existence is all they’ve ever known. Typically these animals are turned over to shelters and rescue groups who try to work with the dogs to help them overcome their fears. The alternative for many of these dogs is, sadly, euthanasia.
Dogs cowering in the back of their shelter kennels certainly have no quality of life, and prospective owners seldom choose them. If they do get adopted, without treatment they are ill-prepared to blend into a family environment, and many new owners are disappointed or at a loss to know what to do to help their new four-legged family member.
One of the things the ASPCA’s research project will do is provide some statistics to work with. Presently, no one really knows how many dogs with fear disorders are placed in adoptive homes, or how they do once they go to their new families. The Behavioral Rehabilitation Center staff will follow up on placed animals to document how well they are doing in their new environment.
Most Dogs Will Stay at the Center for Six to Eight Weeks
The ASPCA’s new center has over two dozen kennels, treatment rooms, “real life” rooms, common areas, and an office. There are 10 people on staff at the center, including two behavior experts from St. Hubert’s. There are also volunteers and caretakers who feed the dogs and clean their kennels.
Center behaviorists will provide customized behavior modification therapy to reduce fear and anxiety in abused dogs. From a recent press release:
Treatment plans will incorporate the use of scientifically sound techniques designed to reduce the dogs’ fear of people and other dogs, acquainting them to unfamiliar objects, sounds, living areas, and real-life situations that can induce trauma and severe stress among this population.
The ASPCA spent over half a million dollars on the center, and will foot the bill for all patient expenses, including veterinary care.
Most dogs will stay at the facility for six to eight weeks, with some requiring a more lengthy or shorter stay, depending on their individual situation. “Graduates” of the center will return to a shelter for placement, and ongoing therapy will be provided as needed.
"For some animals, the reality is that after a lifetime of neglect and abuse, the rescue is just the beginning of their journey to recovery," said Dr. Pamela Reid, vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. The Behavioral Rehabilitation Center’s goal is to provide rescued dogs individualized behavior therapy and more time to recover from past abuse. This will increase the likelihood of successful adoption.
Rescued Alaskan Malamutes Some of Center’s First Residents
Some of the first patients at the new center were a few Alaskan malamutes taken from a Montana breeder who was convicted in December 2012 of over 90 counts of animal cruelty. A total of 213 malamutes were rescued from starvation and filthy living conditions in that case. The dogs were transferred to other kennels and kept as evidence for 16 months during trial preparation.
Eighteen of the dogs were pregnant, one of which weighed just 48 pounds (the average weight of an Alaskan malamute is 75 pounds). She delivered a litter of eight puppies. Only one survived.
Once the dogs were no longer “evidence,” they were sent to a humane society in Helena where they were spayed and neutered. Another animal welfare group helped begin placing the dogs. Some of the malamutes have found new homes; some are living in rescues awaiting adoption.
One of the dogs was adopted by the president of the Alaska Malamute Assistance League in Anchorage. The dog, a 6 year-old female named Cinder, is missing the tip of one ear, has broken teeth and a broken toe – all caused by food fights among the starving dogs while they lived at the breeding facility in Montana. According to Cinder’s owner, many of the malamutes are missing their tongues for the same reason.
Cinder’s owner, Bob Sutherland, says she has come a long way:
"We took a shy dog, and she’s all grins and giggles now. If you work with these dogs, they rise and shine. That’s why this ASPCA facility is so valuable to us. We were super excited to get these dogs in there to go through a training regimen. It saves us a lot of heartbreak about what we do with these dogs.”
Hope for the Future of Mistreated Animals
Sadly, there will be dogs that cannot overcome their fear, no matter how extensive the rehabilitation. But the center’s behaviorists are committed to do everything possible to help dogs recover. Euthanasia will be a last resort for dogs with an extremely poor quality of life, or those who pose a significant threat to people or other animals.
The Behavioral Rehabilitation Center will only be able to handle about 400 animals during the two-year project, so it won’t take much burden off shelters in the immediate future. The hope is that researchers will develop new ways to treat fear, anxiety and shyness in dogs that have been abused, and those techniques can be shared on a broad scale with other facilities and groups doing similar work.
According to Collins, success with this project could expand future projects to include fighting dogs, and even cats.
May 10, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Fostering and Rescue, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, NO KILL NATION, Pet Adoption, Pets, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, Success Stories | abused dogs, ASPCA, dogs with anxiety, Dr. Becker, fearful dogs, fighting dogs, Pet Behavioral Rehabilitation Centers, rehabbing dogs | Leave a Comment
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used in human medicine for years to treat a range of conditions including the bends, wounds that won’t heal, gangrene, burns, and even anemia.
- What happens with hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the lungs are able to gather up to three times more pure oxygen than is normally available, and blood flow delivers that oxygen throughout the body, stimulating the release of natural substances that promote healing.
- At the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the staff is using a hyperbaric chamber to treat a variety of animals with injuries and wounds that involve swollen tissue.
- A veterinarian in New York is using her chamber to speed healing in certain conditions including abscesses, post-radiation swelling and herniated discs.
- At the Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Ft. Pierce, Florida, pets lie on a soft blanket and nap while inhaling pure oxygen that goes to work immediately on wounds, swelling, burns, and other injuries/illnesses.
When your pet gets injured, whether it be from a near-drowning, being hit by a car or bitten by a snake, often what’s needed is a drastic treatment that can effectively reduce swelling and speed up the healing process. This comfortable, 1 to 2 hour treatment, now being offered in certain facilities, might be your pet’s best chance for recovery.
By Dr. Becker
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are pressurized tubes, or in some cases rooms, where hyperbaric oxygen therapy is delivered. This technique has been used in human medicine for decades to treat a variety of conditions including air bubbles in blood vessels (arterial gas embolism), decompression sickness (“the bends”), carbon monoxide poisoning, wounds that won’t heal, crushing injuries, gangrene, a skin or bone infection that causes tissue death, radiation injuries, burns, skin grafts or skin flaps that can cause tissue death, and severe anemia.
In a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the air pressure is up to three times greater than normal. This causes the lungs to collect up to three times more pure oxygen than is possible when breathing atmospheric oxygen. The pure oxygen is transported throughout the body via the blood stream, which encourages the release of growth factors and stem cells that promote healing.
Reduces Swelling and Speeds Healing in Animals
In Florida and a few other states, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is increasingly being used on pets.
The University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine has recently treated dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and even a monkey with oxygen therapy. According to professor and DVM Justin Shmalberg, they have treated rattlesnake bites, infected wounds, and animals hit by cars. Essentially any kind of problem that causes swelling of tissue is a candidate for the hyperbaric chamber.
This summer, the school will begin clinical trials to determine if what they are seeing is “real” – that hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps reduce swelling and speed healing in animals. There isn’t much research on this type of treatment for pets, though ironically, most of the research for human oxygen therapy is the result of studies on rats and rabbits.
Dr. Diane Levitan, owner of a veterinary practice in New York, has a hyperbaric chamber in her facility and has seen improved rates of healing for certain conditions including abscesses, post-radiation swelling and herniated discs. Dr. Levitan is writing an article for a veterinary journal on her use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and agrees with Dr. Shmalberg that it’s important to establish the science behind the success of the technique for certain conditions. “It’s not a panacea,” says Levitan. “There are specific reasons why this is helpful.”
Pets are Comfortable and Relaxed During Treatment
The Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Ft. Pierce, Florida also has a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. They describe the treatment this way:
“Inside the chamber, pets lie on a soft blanket and rest or sleep while the oxygen goes to work on wounds, swelling, burns and other injuries or illnesses. The pets are comfortable and relaxed during dog/cat hyperbaric therapy treatment. The total HBOT treatment time is from 1 to 2 hours, and is usually repeated twice a day. Treatments continue until the doctors see a marked improvement. When your pet is beginning to use the affected limb, or is gaining strength and function, the animal hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments are discontinued.”
This facility uses oxygen therapy for patients with post operative swelling, snake bites, wounds and burns, head and spinal injuries, near-drowning or asphyxiation, and smoke inhalation.
‘About the Size of a Loveseat’
As you might expect, some (probably many) human insurance companies don’t cover oxygen therapy because it’s “unproven,” however, people who have had success with treatments will seek it out anyway. And the same is true for pet owners. They research the treatment and then seek it out for an ailing pet.
The equipment used at the University of Florida is “about the size of a loveseat.” The DVM who initially arranged for the equipment at UF estimates he’s used the chamber 750-800 times in the last 18 months and feels it is very effective for any kind of trauma.
Since most vet practices can’t afford to buy a chamber (equipment for humans runs between $50,000 and $150,000 each), the manufacturer actually gives the chambers to clinics and receives a percentage of each treatment done. Treatments run about $125 per session at the UF clinic.
The equipment can be dangerous to use because 100 percent oxygen is involved. Animals are patted down with water before they go into the chamber so their coat doesn’t attract static electricity and start a fire. Tragically, last year a hyperbaric oxygen chamber in a Florida equine veterinary center exploded, killing a staff member and the horse inside the chamber, and collapsing part of the building. Apparently, the horse hit the side of the enclosure with a foot, which caused a spark that set off the explosion.
Although this type of accident is incredibly rare, some veterinarians view hyperbaric therapy as a treatment of last resort. I don’t agree. With proper training, the hyperbaric oxygen chamber is as safe as any other veterinary treatment equipment, but without side effects. Inhaling pure oxygen in this manner triggers the body’s own ability to heal, which is always the goal.
April 27, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets | Cats, dogs, Dr. Becker, Ferrets, hyperbaric oxygen chamber, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, rabbits monkeys | Leave a Comment
- Feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, is a viral disease caused by certain strains of the feline coronavirus.
- Most cats who acquire a feline corona infection are able to overcome it, however, in 5 to 10 percent of infected cats, either a mutation of the virus or an abnormality in the immune system allows the infection to progress to FIP.
- FIP is seen in both domestic and wild cats, and most often in young cats living in multi-cat households or shelters. Any cat exposed to the feline coronavirus can develop FIP, however, kitties with compromised immune systems or FeLV, elderly cats, kittens, and purebreds are at increased risk.
- The most common route of infection is from mother to kittens. Symptoms depend on whether the FIP is the wet or dry form of the disease.
- Diagnosing FIP can be tricky because the symptoms are seen in many other types of diseases. In addition, there’s no diagnostic test for the condition. Once a diagnosis is made, however, the prognosis is poor. Cats with the wet form of FIP go downhill rapidly; kitties with the dry form may live a year or so past diagnosis.
- Prevention of FIP includes keeping your cat’s immune system strong and balanced. We absolutely do not recommend the FIP vaccine as a preventive measure, as it is ineffective and can cause significant immune system damage.
By Dr. Becker
Feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, is a viral disease caused by certain strains of the feline coronavirus. Most strains, called feline enteric coronavirus, do not cause disease.
How FIP Develops
Most kitties with feline corona infection are asymptomatic during the initial stages. The immune system responds by producing antiviral antibodies to kill off the infection. But in about five to 10 percent of infected cats, it is believed either a mutation of the corona virus or an abnormality in the immune system response allows the infection to progress to FIP.
In FIP, the antibodies that should provide protection actually help infect white blood cells with the virus. These cells, in turn, spread the infection throughout the cat’s body. This results in a very powerful inflammatory response in tissues where the infected cells locate — frequently in the abdomen, kidneys, or brain.
It’s the interaction of the body’s immune system with the virus that results in disease. It behaves unlike any other viral disease we know of in either animals or people. Sadly, once FIP has involved one or more organs or body systems, the infection is quite progressed and almost always fatal.
Transmission of Feline Infectious Peritonitis
FIP is a disease of both domestic and wild cats. It’s most often seen in young cats living in multi-cat households, shelters, and catteries. Any cat exposed to the feline coronavirus can develop FIP. However, cats with compromised immune systems, those already infected with the feline leukemia virus, geriatric cats, and kittens are most likely to develop the disease. Males are more commonly infected than females, and purebred cats are at an increased risk, especially the Asian breeds.
FIP in symptomatic cats is not highly contagious, because by the time a kitty shows clinical signs of the infection, he is shedding only a small amount of the virus.
Fortunately, FIP is relatively rare in the general cat population. However, feline coronavirus is found in large quantities in the feces and saliva of cats during the acute stage of infection when there are no symptoms. It’s also found to a lesser extent in cats that have recovered, as well as carrier cats.
The coronavirus can be transmitted from one cat to another through physical contact and through exposure to feces. Usually, transmission occurs long before clinical signs are noted. The virus can also live in the environment for several weeks.
The most common route of infection, though, is when an infected mother passes the virus to her kittens. This usually occurs when the litter is between five and eight weeks of age.
The Two Forms of FIP and Their Symptoms
Kitties exposed to the feline coronavirus often have no clear symptoms, although there may be some sneezing, watery eyes, or nasal discharge. Sometimes a cat who has been infected will show mild intestinal signs like diarrhea.
Only a small percentage of cats exposed to the feline coronavirus go on to develop FIP. It can be weeks, months, or even years after exposure before symptoms appear.
Kitties that wind up with FIP often seem to their owners to develop symptoms very suddenly. This is probably due to the ability of cats to mask illness until they’re terribly sick. In addition, initial symptoms are often non-specific. They can include a lack of appetite, weight loss, fever, poor hair coat, and sometimes mild depression.
There are actually two forms of FIP, the effusive or wet form, and the non-effusive or dry form. Cats with the dry form tend to show signs of the illness more slowly. Those signs can include weight loss, depression, anemia, inflammation of the eye, and a stubborn fever that doesn’t respond to antibiotics.
Kitties with the wet form of the disease accumulate fluid in the abdomen and sometimes in the chest. Early on, symptoms may mimic those of the dry form of FIP. But effusive FIP progresses pretty quickly. The cat may suddenly develop a potbelly due to fluid accumulation in the abdomen. In addition, breathing can sometimes be labored due to a buildup of fluid in the chest.
Diagnosing feline infectious peritonitis can be difficult because many of the symptoms are common in many other diseases. In addition, there’s no simple diagnostic test for the condition.
Several tests can detect feline corona antibodies, but they can’t tell what strains are involved. A positive result on an ELISA, IFA, or a virus neutralization test simply means the cat has had exposure to the coronavirus, but not necessarily a strain of the virus that causes FIP.
There is an immunoperoxidase test that can find the presence of viral infected cells in the tissues. But it must be followed by a biopsy to evaluate the affected tissue.
Routine blood tests, including a complete blood count and serum biochemistry profile, can show elevated liver enzymes, anemia, and abnormal blood protein levels, which are typical of kitties with FIP.
Chest and abdominal X-rays may show an abnormal accumulation of fluid.
Blood samples from cats with very high blood protein levels can be submitted for serum protein electrophoresis testing. Cerebral spinal fluid samples can also be analyzed for protein content, which is typically elevated in FIP cats. But the only way to definitively diagnose FIP is by a surgical biopsy of an affected organ (often the intestines) or examination of tissues during an autopsy.
Veterinarians often rely on a presumptive diagnosis, which can be made with a high degree of confidence based on the cat’s history, symptoms, examination of fluids, and a high corona antibody titer.
Unfortunately, there is no cure at the present time for FIP. Once a kitty develops clinical signs of the disease, either the dry or wet form, the prognosis is very poor.
I have had some success in helping several kitties overcome this disease by supportive care and using homeopathic FIP nosodes, cytokine therapy, and IV vitamin C therapy, in addition to immune-modulating nutraceuticals.
I have also attempted to help many kitties that, unfortunately, end up succumbing to the disease. It’s a devastating situation for both the owner and the veterinarian.
The wet form typically progresses very rapidly. Many cats live only a month or two after diagnosis. Cats that have been diagnosed with the dry form may have another year or so with a good quality of life. Unfortunately, the dry form of FIP can progress to the wet form if the cat lives long enough.
Supportive care for FIP patients includes good nutritional and environmental maintenance, alleviating the inflammatory response of the disease, fluid therapy, draining fluid accumulation, and blood transfusions.
Preventing FIP in Your Own Cat
The best way to prevent FIP is to keep your cat’s immune system strong and balanced. This includes feeding a balanced species-appropriate diet; keeping vaccines and other drugs to an absolute minimum; providing a stress-free, enriched environment for your cat; regular wellness checkups with your veterinarian; either keeping your pet indoors at all times or providing a safe outdoor enclosure; and supervising walks with a harness and leash.
Of course, I always advocate rescuing cats rather than buying them, but if you do purchase a purebred cat, only do business with breeders who guarantee their kittens are FIP-free.
In a multi-cat household, it’s important to keep litter boxes clean and located in areas away from food and water bowls. Litter should also be scooped at least once daily, removing all feces, and dumped weekly or every two weeks, at which time the box should be completely and thoroughly disinfected with mild soap and water.
New cats to the household and certainly any cat that might be infected should be kept separate from other cats for a quarantine period.
There is an FIP vaccine available. However, I do not recommend it. It has little to no effectiveness in preventing FIP and is not recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel. This vaccine causes substantial immune system damage and, in my opinion, should absolutely not be used.
April 23, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | Cats, Dr. Becker, feline infectious peritonities, feline vaccines, FIP, pet vaccines | 1 Comment
Video: Charles the Lion Dog…
By Dr. Becker
This story is too cute and funny not to share!
According to PilotOnline.com and the Virginian-Pilot, the first person that called 911 was rather calm as he stated, “I’d like to report a lion sighting.”
Not surprisingly, the dispatcher asked him to repeat himself!
And that man’s call was just one of three about baby lion sightings in Norfolk, Virginia one Tuesday morning in January.
A baby lion is running loose in the streets!
The first call came in around 10:20 a.m.
A man told the 911 dispatcher a lion was running down Granby Street. Then a woman grabbed the phone and said, “There was a lion that ran across the street. A baby lion. It was about the size of a Labrador Retriever. It’s running loose in the neighborhood.”
The woman also explained that the “baby lion” sighting was in close proximity to the city zoo.
“It had the ‘mange’ and everything!”
Five minutes after the first call, a second call came in of a sighting on Delaware Avenue near Llewellyn Avenue.
“I just saw an animal that looked like a small lion,” this caller, also a male, told dispatch. And it had “the mange and everything!” (Not only is a “baby lion” running loose in the streets, it also has a parasitic skin disease!) “I don’t know if it got away from the zoo, or what,” the man continued.
It’s going from one house to the next!
“I just saw a baby lion at Colley Avenue and 50th Street,” reports caller number three.
When the dispatcher asks for clarification about the type of animal, the man responds, “A lion. A baby lion, maybe. I don’t think it has caused any problem so far.”
“OK. You think it’s looking for food?” the dispatcher asked when the caller explained the “lion” was going from house to house. “I don’t know,” the man responded.
Identity of Baby Lion Revealed
In case you didn’t follow this little story in the news, the “baby lion” was soon identified as a Lab-Poodle mix (a “labradoodle”) named Charles the Monarch. Apparently Charles’ owner likes to have his dog groomed to resemble the mascot of Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
In any event, Charles the ‘doodle is now a minor celebrity. He was even featured on the “Today” show on NBC shortly after all the “baby lion” sightings!
April 17, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal and Pet Photos, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, pet fun, Pets, Unusual Stories | dogs, Dr. Becker, Labradoodle, lion dog, pet fun, Virginia | 1 Comment
- According to recent studies of cats and dogs with osteoarthritis (OA), both species can benefit from a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids sourced from fish.
- The University of Montreal conducted a study of 30 dogs with OA and concluded a diet supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids resulted in significant improvement in movement problems and performance of daily activities.
- In addition to supplementing your dog’s diet with a high quality omega-3 like krill oil, there are many other things you can do to prevent or manage your pet’s arthritic condition, including providing chiropractic care, therapeutic massage, and acupuncture. We also recommend talking with your holistic vet about natural supplements that promote cartilage repair and maintenance.
- In addition to improving OA symptoms, omega-3 fatty acids can benefit your pet in a number of other ways, including improving the condition of the skin and coat, alleviating symptoms of an overactive immune system, and supporting heart health.
By Dr. Becker
In February I wrote about a study done in the Netherlands on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for cats with osteoarthritis (OA).
Recently I came across a Canadian study1 also published last year that indicates the same is true for dogs with naturally occurring OA. The dogs were fed a veterinary prescription diet containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, and showed significant improvement in locomotor disability (problems moving around) and performance of daily activities.
Dogs Fed a Diet High in Omega-3s Showed Significant Improvement in Gait and Activity Scores
The University of Montreal’s Department of Veterinary Biomedicine conducted a 13-week study with 30 pet dogs suffering with arthritis. Half the dogs were fed a commercial dog food containing omega-3 fatty acids sourced from fish oil. The remaining dogs were fed a similar food, but with a different fat source.
The dogs were evaluated with force plates to analyze their gait, veterinary orthopedic exams, and activity scores assessed by their owners. Force plate measurements were taken at the start of the trial and again at weeks 7 and 13. The gait of dogs on the omega-3 supplemented diet was markedly improved, as were their activity scores. The dogs fed the other diet showed no significant improvement in either area.
Other Ways to Help Prevent or Alleviate Arthritis Symptoms in Your Dog
In addition to a high quality omega-3 supplement (I recommend offering krill oil; I do not recommend processed pet foods with added omega-3s), there are several other natural supplements and therapies that can help alleviate arthritis symptoms in your pet, including:
- Veterinary chiropractic care. Chiropractic treatments are affordable and can be very effective in alleviating pain and reducing joint degeneration.
- Massage, therapeutic exercises and physiotherapy can reduce inflammation and pain in damaged tissues.
- Acupuncture can be tremendously beneficial for dogs with degenerative joint disease.
- Adequan injections can stimulate joint fluid very rapidly in pets with arthritis.
- Adding certain supplements to your pet’s diet can provide the raw materials for cartilage repair and maintenance, among them:
- Glucosamine sulfate, MSM and Egg Shell Membrane supplements
- Homeopathic Rhus Tox, Arnica and others that fit the animal’s symptoms
- Ubiquinol and turmeric
- Supergreen foods, such as Spirulina and Astaxanthin
- Natural anti-inflammatory formulas (herbs, proteolytic enzymes, such as Wobenzym® and nutraceuticals)
- EFAC complex
Other extremely important factors in preventing or alleviating the symptoms of OA include keeping your dog at a lean, healthy weight; feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet; discontinuing annual vaccines (titer instead); and giving your dog plenty of opportunities to be physically active throughout her life.
Additional Benefits of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
The omega-3s include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaneoic acid (EPA).
Omega-3s, play a huge role in your pet’s health in many ways, among them:
- Improving the health of your pet’s skin and coat. Poor skin condition puts your dog or cat at risk for itching, irritation, skin allergies and bacterial infections.
- Alleviating the harmful effects of allergies and other conditions that result from an over reactive immune system response.
- Slowing the growth of common yeast infections in dogs and cats.
- Aiding proper development of the retina and visual cortex.
- Preventing certain heart problems in your pet.
- Maintaining healthy blood pressure and decreasing triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels.
- Regulating blood-clotting activity.
- Slowing the development and spread of certain pet cancers.
April 13, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets | cats and dogs, dogs and cats, Dr. Becker, omega 3-s, osteoarthritis, Pet Arthritis, Pet Health, salmon | 1 Comment
- Spaying female dogs at a young age, especially before their first estrus cycle, has long been hailed as a method of eliminating or reducing the risk of mammary neoplasia (breast cancer). In fact, most animal welfare organizations and veterinarians are quick to list breast cancer prevention as one of the many benefits of early spaying.
- But what is the science behind this assertion? As it turns out … there isn’t much. A study conducted by the Royal Veterinary College in the U.K. points to a lack of hard evidence of a link between spaying/early spaying and a reduction in mammary tumors in female dogs.
- The U.K. study was a systematic review based on internationally recognized Cochrane Review guidelines used in human medicine. The results of the systematic review point to the need for similar high-quality research in veterinary medicine.
- Pet owners are entitled to know the risks and benefits of any procedure performed on their furry charges. In this instance, a widely promoted benefit of spaying/early spaying may not offer the level protection from breast cancer dog owners have been led to believe.
- Spay/neuter decisions by individual pet owners should be based on a holistic approach to the animal’s health and quality of life.
By Dr. Becker
If you Google the term “benefits of spaying,” you’ll get tens of thousands of results, many of which list protection against mammary neoplasia (breast cancer) as a benefit of early spaying of female dogs.
In fact, according to well-known resource Petfinder.com1:
“Spaying before the first heat virtually eliminates the development of breast cancer later in life for both dogs and cats. (If the surgery is performed when the animal is older, this benefit will be lost.)”
And the ASPCA2 says this:
“Females spayed prior to their first estrus cycle have a significantly reduced risk of developing mammary cancer, a common cancer in unspayed females. The chances of developing this cancer increase if a female isn’t spayed until after her second heat cycle, but they still remain lower than the risk for unspayed females. So if your dog has already gone through her first heat cycle, it’s not too late. Spaying her will still reduce her risk of developing cancerous mammary tumors.”
According to Clinician’s Brief, a majority of veterinarians recommend spaying, and about 16 percent encourage performing the procedure before the first estrus cycle in order to receive the alleged added benefit of protection against mammary tumors.
Under the circumstances, it would seem there must be ample scientific evidence that spayed female dogs, and especially those spayed before their first estrus cycle, have less incidence of breast cancer … right?
Not So Fast … What Evidence Supports the Link Between Spaying and Reduction in Mammary Tumors?
Results of a study published last year in the Journal of Small Animal Practice3 were unable to validate the theory – a theory that is widely assumed to be a fact – that early spaying protects female dogs from mammary neoplasia.
The study was a systematic review conducted by members of the Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health Group of the Royal Veterinary College in the U.K. A systematic review is an examination of several studies for the purpose of summing up the best available research on a particular subject. For the study, peer-reviewed analytic journal articles in English were eligible and were assessed for risk of bias by two reviewers independently.
The objective of the study was to evaluate the quantity and veracity of evidence that spaying, or the age at which a dog is spayed, has an effect on the risk of mammary tumors.
There were over 11,000 search results on the subject, of which 13 were English-language, peer-reviewed reports focused on the link between spaying/age of spay and mammary tumors. Of those 13, nine were deemed to have a high risk of bias, and the remaining four had a moderate risk of bias. (For more information on how bias was assessed and how the researchers screened the results, the full study can be found here.)
Of the four moderate-risk-of-bias studies, one found a link between spaying and a reduced risk of mammary tumors, two found no evidence of a link, and one suggested “some protective effect,” but no specific details were offered.
The Royal Veterinary College reviewers concluded that:
“Due to the limited evidence available and the risk of bias in the published results, the evidence that neutering reduces the risk of mammary neoplasia, and the evidence that age at neutering has an effect, are judged to be weak and are not a sound basis for firm recommendations.”
Simple translation: the idea that spaying, and early spaying of a female dog before her first estrus cycle, removes or reduces her risk of breast cancer is at the present time a theory rather than a fact.
The methodology used in the U.K. study was based on Cochrane Review guidelines, which are internationally recognized for their high standards in evidence-based medicine for humans. According to Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a veterinary oncologist, results of this study highlight the need for quality research in veterinary medicine. Dr. Hohenhaus goes on to say:
“Despite lack of evidence found to support early spaying as preventing mammary tumors, veterinarians may continue to recommend it to prevent estrus cycles, unwanted litters, and pyometra. Clinical experience may suggest that early spaying decreases the risk of mammary tumors, but without additional well-designed trials, scientific evidence to support this is lacking.”
Spay/Neuter Decisions Should Be Based on Your Pet’s Health and Quality of Life
For the record, I’m not advocating leaving female dogs intact indefinitely, nor am I suggesting dogs should not under any circumstances be spayed or neutered at a young age.
My goal with regard to pet sterilization is simply to provide information to pet owners about the risks, since there is much information readily available about the benefits. In this case, where early spaying has been widely promoted as a way to prevent mammary tumors in female dogs, in light of the findings of the U.K. systematic review, I feel compelled to let pet owners know there is scarce scientific evidence available to back up that widely held belief.
If your dog is not yet spayed or neutered, I can offer some general recommendations for timing of the procedure:
- Your dog should be old enough to be a balanced individual both physically and mentally. For the majority of dogs, this balance isn’t achieved until a dog has reached at least one year of age. Although some breeds reach maturity faster than others, many giant breed dogs are still developing at two years of age.
- Other considerations include your dog’s diet, level of exercise, behavioral habits, previous physical or emotional trauma, existing health concerns, and overall lifestyle. If your pet is emotionally balanced (has no behavior problems) consider investigating a vasectomy or tubal ligation instead.
- I encourage you to learn all you can about surgical sterilization options and the risks and benefits associated with each procedure.
April 11, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | doggie breast cancer, Dr. Becker, mammary neoplasia in dogs, pet myths, spay/neuter, spaying | 4 Comments
- As we predicted in November of last year, dry dog foods containing corn and corn products harvested from last summer’s crop could present a significant risk of aflatoxin contamination.
- The summer of 2012 across the Midwest was very dry and very hot, creating an environment in which certain types of plant mold proliferate. These molds produce metabolites called aflatoxins, which are mycotoxins known to cause acute lethal illness in both animals and humans.
- Voluntary recalls of dry dog food due to high levels of aflatoxin contamination have already begun across states in the Midwest. Unfortunately, because of the behavior of the molds involved, it has proved difficult to control, minimize or even accurately assess levels of contamination.
- If you feed dry dog food to your pet, we are repeating our recommendations to transition to another type of diet and/or carefully avoid any pet food containing corn or corn products
By Dr. Becker
In an article last November, I reported on the very real danger of future widespread aflatoxin contamination of commercial pet food, primarily dry dog food. Thanks to the very hot, dry summer of 2012, experts predicted U.S. corn crops would be heavily infested with two types of mold — Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.
These molds produce metabolites called aflatoxins. Aflatoxins cause acute lethal illness and cancer in animals and humans, and are among the most carcinogenic substances on earth. Aflatoxins poison the liver, and their carcinogenic properties can lead to tumor formation.
Recalls of Aflatoxin-Contaminated Dog Food Have Begun
Reuters reports high levels of aflatoxins have been discovered in bags of dog food on store shelves in Iowa. And according to Michael Wright, the CEO of Pro-Pet, a pet food company in Ohio that recently learned some of its product was contaminated with aflatoxins, “Last year’s corn crop – it’s a huge issue. We test every load coming in. And we reject a lot of loads.”
During the last week of February, the Hy-Vee Inc. grocery chain was forced to recall five different products in its private dog food line due to high levels of aflatoxins in the corn used in the formulas. The dog food was produced at a Kansas City Pro-Pet plant and distributed across eight Midwestern states.
As I explained back in November, the behavior of the A. flavus and A. parasiticus molds makes it very difficult to control or minimize aflatoxin contamination, or to accurately assess the extent of the problem. There can be pockets of plants that are heavily contaminated, while the rest of the crop is relatively mold-free, so analyzing occasional random samples of corn plants can give misleading results.
The corn used in the recalled Hy-Vee formulas had been tested before it was added to the dog food, and the finished product was reportedly tested as well. But the contamination wasn’t discovered until a random bag was pulled from a store shelf in Iowa by an inspector for the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
According to PetfoodIndustry.com, Hy-Vee officials say the recall is only a precautionary measure and no illnesses have been reported. The recalled products were distributed to Hy-Vee stores in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin between October 26, 2012, and January 11, 2013. Specific details of recalled products can be found here.
If you happen to have a bag of recalled product, you should stop feeding it to your pet. You can also return the food, opened or unopened, to a Hy-Vee store for a full refund.
How to Avoid Aflatoxin-Contaminated Pet Food
Aflatoxin-related illness is seen much more often in dogs than cats because more commercial dog foods than cat foods contain corn products.
To be very safe, I recommend you transition your pet away from all dry food. Replace it with a high quality canned food, a commercially prepared raw diet, dehydrated raw, a balanced home cooked diet, or a combination.
If you want to continue to offer dry food to your dog, I recommend you study the ingredients carefully and avoid products containing corn in any form, including corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, corn flour, etc. Corn is not only highly susceptible to aflatoxin contamination, it is also allergenic and difficult for most pets to digest.
Beef Verses Bison for Dogs – Variety is critical for your pet to receive the full spectrum of amino acids, essential fatty acids, trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants necessary to thrive.
The Nutrient Your Dog Needs More of As They Age: Protein – And Expecting Your Pet to Get It from Rendered Pet Food Is the Worst of the Worst of the Worst Options!
Beef Verses Bison for Dogs – Variety is critical for your pet to receive the full spectrum of amino acids, essential fatty acids, trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants necessary to thrive.
WHAT HUMAN FOODS ARE UNSAFE FOR PETS? (the 12 worst)–> chocolate, sugarless gum & artificial sweeteners, alcohol, yeast dough, grapes & raisins, Macadamia nuts, onions (bad for dogs and cats… but poison for cats), garlic (for cats), caffeine, fat trimmings and bones (bad for cats and limited fat and the right bones for dogs), raw eggs (for cats, but must be careful for dogs and humans), and milk.
Some of the best human foods for dogs: peanut butter (although peanuts and peanut butter can contain mold so could be bad for humans and dogs), cheese including cottage cheese (some some dogs can be prone to be lactose intolerant like people), yogurt, watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe, blueberries, salmon, green beans, sweet potatoes, fresh raw carrots, pumpkin, and lean meat… cooked or raw.
Keep your pets healthy and help extend their lives with:
April 8, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership | aflatoxins, commercial pet food, dog food, Dr. Becker, Pet Food | 1 Comment
- In part 1 of a 3-part series on raw food diets for pets, Dr. Becker begins the discussion by reviewing the ancestral origins of today’s dogs and cats.
- From a genetic standpoint, domesticated canines and felines are essentially the same as their wild counterparts, who are carnivores.
- Dogs and cats have not evolved from meat-eaters to vegetarians, but you wouldn’t know it from the ingredients used in the vast majority of commercial pet foods on the market.
- Fortunately, dogs and cats are adaptable, resilient animals. Otherwise, the biologically inappropriate convenience pet foods they’ve been fed for the last century would wreak even greater havoc on their health.
- High-carbohydrate, low-moisture commercial pet foods have created significant metabolic and physiologic stress in our pets and have become the root cause of most of the inflammatory processes and degenerative disease we see in veterinary medicine today.
By Dr. Becker
Today and over the next couple of weeks I’ll be discussing my favorite topic, raw food diets for pets. I want to talk about some of the myths and truths surrounding raw food diets, but before we get to the good stuff, it’s important to have a foundation of understanding about basic nutrition.
One point that no one argues is that for optimal health to occur, animals must consume the foods they were designed to eat. I call this a species-appropriate diet. So vegetarian animals must eat vegetation for optimal health. And carnivorous animals must eat fresh whole prey for optimal health.
Origins of Dogs and Cats
A good place to start a discussion of our carnivorous pets is to go back to the roots of the dog and the cat prior to domestication. The domestic dog, whose taxonomic name is Canis lupus familiaris, is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, which is a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora.
Most scientists believe dogs were domesticated from gray wolves about 15,000 years ago. But DNA analysis published in 1997 suggests that the transformation from wolves to domestic dogs occurred more like 130,000 years ago.
Data suggests dogs first diverged from wolves in East Asia, and these domesticated dogs quickly migrated throughout the world. Of course, humans began selectively breeding dogs to create animals that suited their needs and their likes.
The earliest evidence of cat domestication is a kitten that was found buried alongside a human approximately 9,500 years ago in Cyprus. Researchers have gained major insights through DNA testing into the evolution of cats by showing how they migrated to new continents and developed new species as the sea levels rose and fell.
A 2008 study revealed that lines of descent for all house cats, of the species Felis catus, probably came from self-domesticating African wild cats up to 10,000 years ago. And as happened with the domesticated dog, humans began breeding cats to suit their fancy. Today, over 80 breeds of cats are recognized by one registry or another.
Today’s Cats and Dogs are Carnivores Just Like Their Wild Ancestors
Despite humans’ desire to create certain physical characteristics in dogs and cats – this is called their phenotype or how animals look externally – their genetic makeup remains essentially the same as their wild ancestors, which should tell you something about the foods they should still be consuming.
Of course, all animals are biologically equipped to assimilate and digest foods they were designed to eat. For example, earthworms are naturally designed to process dirt. The entire GI tract of worms, from the mouth to the other end where waste is excreted, was designed for this purpose.
Cows are designed to eat grass, and their GI tracts are set up perfectly for this. They have big, round, flat teeth used to grind grasses and an unbelievable range of motion in their mandibles, allowing them to chew, chew, chew, and chew. Cows have a lot of range of motion laterally in their jaws.
Dogs and cats do not have this range of motion in their jaws. Their jaws move up and down only, like a trap door or a hinge, because dogs and cats are gulpers, not chewers. They don’t have chewing teeth. Dogs and cats have incredibly sharp interlocking teeth designed to rip and tear flesh.
They also have very short GI tracts compared to vegetarian animals that need to ferment foods, as carnivorous animals consume foods with potentially very heavy pathogen loads. The bodies of carnivores are designed to get foods in and back out very quickly.
The ancestral lifestyle of a carnivore includes lots of variety and seasonal variability, meaning certain prey was more prevalent at certain times of the year. They thrived consuming fresh, living, whole animals. But carnivorous animals do not eat clean foods. Dogs and cats did not evolve to consume sterile foods. They have digestive tracts that are designed to be resilient and handle the loads of naturally occurring bacteria that are present in the foods they eat. Their food in the wild was moisture-dense, meaning the prey they consumed was primarily water.
The carnivorous lifestyle required a tremendous amount of exercise and exertion. Food was not served to them, so they had to stealthily catch it. This provided intense stimulation of all the senses, plus nervous, skeletal, endocrine, and circulatory system involvement. Carnivorous animals had daily rigorous workouts in an attempt to catch enough food to stay alive.
Most Pet Food is Biologically Inappropriate for Dogs and Cats
What’s very important for pet owners to know is that “pet food” is a relatively new concept. So, “dog food” and “cat food” you buy from the supermarket has only been around a little over a hundred years.
However, animals have hunted prey or, in the case of dogs, scavenged — for millions of years. And although recent research suggests domesticated carnivores were able to adapt to some degree to starch in the diet as humans became planters and farmers of grains, dogs and cats have most definitely not evolved into vegetarians over time.
Over the last hundred years, major pet food companies have produced most of their products using a base of corn, wheat, rice, or potato. However, our carnivorous pets have not evolved to be able to process those foreign foods.
The good news is dogs and cats are adaptable and resilient unlike other species, for example, snakes. If we suddenly forced snakes to eat grains or consume vegetation, they would simply die, demonstrating rather visibly and quickly that they were not provided the correct food source.
Dogs and cats are among the most resilient animals on the planet. They are able to withstand really significant nutritional abuse, in my opinion, without dying. Degeneration does occur as the result of an inappropriate diet, but sudden death does not.
So one of the reasons we’ve been able to deceive ourselves into believing convenience pet foods are good for dogs and cats is because they don’t die immediately of acute starvation. For a hundred years our pets have been fed inappropriate diets that have kept them alive, but far from thriving like their wild relatives. Instead, we’ve created dozens of generations of nutritionally weakened animals that suffer from degenerative diseases linked to nutritional deficiencies – a link the traditional veterinary community has not acknowledged.
The Pottenger cat study is one example of how our current system of nourishing pets creates chronic disease.
The truth is that our pet population provides a place for recycling waste from the human food industry. Grains that fail inspection, uninspected pieces and parts of waste from the seafood industry, leftover restaurant grease, deceased livestock, and even roadkill is collected and disposed of through rendering — a process that converts all sorts of human food industry waste into raw materials for the pet food industry.
These raw materials are purchased by huge pet food manufacturers – makers of the big name brands your parents and friends have probably used for the last 50 years. These manufacturers blend the rendered fat and meat with a large amount of starch fillers. They add bulk vitamin and mineral supplements, and then they extrude the mix at high temperatures, creating all sorts of toxic reactions including advanced glycation end products and heterocyclic amines. They call this “pet food” and sell it to customers at an unbelievable profit.
Is the entire system flawed? Yes. But pet food industry giants are realizing that pet owners are becoming more educated about their flawed system, and they are trying to clean up their image. We are beginning to see words like “natural” and “no byproducts” on labels. We’re beginning to see “grain-free” and “naturally preserved” on labels as well. Manufacturers are hearing the grumbles of educated pet owners and are changing their marketing to try to regain lost customers.
Common Pet Food Myths Many People Actually Believe
I find it amazing that pet parents buy into marketing gimmicks that human parents would never fall for. For instance, how often have you heard a pediatrician say, “Never feed your baby anything but X brand of baby food, because feeding a homemade diet could be dangerous to your child’s health?” Never. But you do hear it often in the veterinary world.
Or how about this one: “Switching your brand of baby food could lead to GI problems, so feed only one brand or type of baby food to your children for the rest of their lives to avoid GI problems.” You would never hear this, either, from a competent pediatrician. And yet, you hear this type of advice all the time in the veterinary industry. It’s startling to me to know that entire generations of people actually believe pets must have “pet food” to be healthy.
And there’s a host of other myths you’ve probably heard. For example, pets can derive all the nutrients they need for vibrant health from a dry nugget that can be fed day after day, year after year. Or that if you don’t feed crunchy foods to your pet, his or her teeth won’t be clean. Or canned food is too rich, and raw food is just a recent trendy craze that could be risky.
A lot of people also believe their veterinarian wouldn’t recommend X brand of food if wasn’t good for their pet… that all cats should eat fish and drink milk… that veterinarians are the people to trust for the most up-to-date information pertaining to nutrition… or that disease, degeneration, and poor vitality have nothing to do with day to day nourishment. All myths.
So… What are the Facts?
Number one, carbohydrates are not a necessary component of a carnivore’s diet. Cats have no taste receptors for sweet flavors and have low rates of glucose uptake in the intestine. They should not be fed any type of grain that metabolizes into sugar.
Cats have no salivary amylase to break down starches, either, and dogs have very low amylase secretion.
Also, cats never hunted fish from the ocean – fish is not an evolutionary food source for them.
The intense heat used to process commercial pet foods diminishes or destroys the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in food. Processed pet foods require supplementation to replace lost nutrients.
The heating process also significantly reduces the digestibility of amino acids in pet food.
And digestibility of meat-based protein is proven to be superior to plant-based protein – the type used in most inexpensive commercial pet foods — for dogs and cats.
So in a nutshell, for 99.99 percent of their time on earth, dogs and cats have consumed a natural diet. For .01 percent of the time, they have consumed an extruded, processed diet. Dogs and cats evolved to consume a low-carbohydrate diet. But for the last century, the majority of pet owners have fed pets a high-carbohydrate, low-moisture diet. This has created significant metabolic and physiologic stress, and convenience pet foods have become the root cause of most of the inflammatory processes and degenerative disease that plague today’s dogs and cats.
April 1, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets, responsible pet ownership | Cats, commercial pet food, dogs, Dr. Becker, Homemade pet food, meat-eaters, Pets, raw food diet for pets, raw food pet diet | 2 Comments
Save a Life…Adopt Just One More…Pet!
Everyday we read or hear another story about pets and other animals being abandoned in record numbers while at the same time we regularly hear about crazy new rules and laws being passed limiting the amount of pets that people may have, even down to one or two… or worse yet, none.
Nobody is promoting hoarding pets or animals, but at a time when there are more pets and animals of all types being abandoned or being taken to shelters already bursting at the seams, there is nothing crazier than legislating away the ability of willing adoptive families to take in just one more pet!!
Our goal is to raise awareness and help find homes for all pets and animals that need one by helping to match them with loving families and positive situations. Our goal is also to help fight the trend of unfavorable legislation and rules in an attempt to stop unnecessary Euthenization!!
“All over the world, major universities are researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions which are employing full-time pet therapists and animals is increasing daily.” ~ Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love
Photos By: Marion Algier – The UCLA Shutterbug
There is always room for Just One More Pet. So if you have room in your home and room in your heart… Adopt Just One More! If you live in an area that promotes unreasonable limitations on pets… fight the good fight and help change the rules and legislation…
Save the Life of Just One More…Animal!
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Photos by the UCLA Shutterbug are protected by copyright, Please email at JustOneMorePet@gmail.com or find us on twitter @JustOneMorePet for permission to duplicate for commerical purposes or to purchase photos.
If you can adopt or foster just one more pet, you could be saving a life, while adding joy to your own! Our shelters are over-flowing… Please join the fight to make them all ‘NO-Kill’ facilities.
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Great Book for Children and Pet Lovers… And a Perfect Holiday GiftOne More Pet Emily loves animals so much that she can’t resist bringing them home. When a local farmer feels under the weather, she is only too eager to “feed the lambs, milk the cows and brush the rams.” The farmer is so grateful for Emily’s help that he gives her a giant egg... Can you guess what happens after that? The rhythmic verse begs to be read aloud, and the lively pictures will delight children as they watch Emily’s collection of pets get bigger and bigger.
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If You Were Stranded On An Island…A recent national survey revealed just how much Americans love their companion animals. When respondents were asked whether they’d like to spend life stranded on a deserted island with either their spouse or their pet, over 60% said they would prefer their dog or cat for companionship!